Monday, April 20, 2009


Choring is the word our farmer friends here in Amish country use to describe the doing of their varied daily agricultural tasks. Our city-slicker children initially thought this was a funny way of putting it, but our limited exposure has revealed other related terms such as: lunching, concreting, and combining (with the emphasis on the first syllable -- the thing a combine does). Ben refers to this handy manipulation of words as verbing.

On our farm, our daily agricultural tasks only involve certain quackless fowl. Choring is divided up between between Rebekah and Joanna, with Susanna and Noah waiting in the wings, pardon the pun (if that passes for one). They braved the brunt of winter, the relentless wind, the really cold ice and the arctic blast to deliver food and momentarily liquid water (that was a dilemna) to our remaining six head of muscovy ducks.

Though it was another very cold Wisconsin winter, each fowl fared fine, and we lost none due to hypothermia. Rebekah and Joanna were troopers in keeping the ducks in high protein crumble and gave us daily updates on the ducks' antics.

"They don't want to leave their house."

"They don't move much."

"They like to eat snow."

Now that spring is here and the snow has finally melted, changing out their straw is much easier. It is a pretty quick process in which many hands make light, but stinky, work.

Joanna and Rebekah shovel out the straw, and it is quickly transferred to the waiting vehicle of the little brothers.

The boys push their vehicle up a hill into which our compost bin is built, so they can dump-truck the old straw into the bin from above. This was their decision, as the girls don't really care where the old straw goes, and the boys just want a good reason to climb the hill.

The relatively fresh straw is tossed into the duck house.

The ducks appear to patiently wait for us to finish with whatever it is we are doing. Can you see the looks of thankfulness on their bills? Me neither.

We recently thinned our our herd to one male (drake) and the remaining females. We are waiting to see if they start laying eggs, now that the days are getting longer...

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Higher ground

We are enjoying the unexpected this spring. After snow on Saturday, we looked forward to a sunny day on Monday to hit the trail!

With few exceptions, most abrupt changes in altitude in Wisconsin are due to big piles of rocks. One exception is Roche a Cri, located near Friendship. It is a big hunk of laminated sandstone which forgot to erode along with the surrounding landscape.

Monday was Benjamin's 17th birthday, so we celebrated by scaling the hunk of sandstone. We packed a simple backpacker's lunch...cheese, trail mix, apples and root beer.

This was a much anticipated trip. We really enjoy "backpacking". Sammy and Gideon were the only ones with actual backpacks, and we consumed our lunch on the hour drive to the park. Gideon was carrying diaper changing supplies for Joshie. Sammy was carrying a compass and a history book by Winston Churchill (for Zak).

The ice has not gone off of all the lakes, but this creek was flowing. We read that the rusty color of the water is due to the dye in the roots of the trees that border the rivers in this part of the state.

The main park entrance hasn't opened, but the winter access remains open for winter sports. We met a few other hikers who assured us that the trail up top was fine.

Rock layers of soft sandstone. There are petroglyphs at the bottom.

I'm thankful we noticed Gideon wasn't wearing socks before we left the house.

Liked canned mushrooms on pizza, newcomers have to get used to certain quirky things about the midwest. Like hiking up stairs!

Everyone zipped happily upward, but Mommy had to take it slow, for the baby.

The view from the top deck: beautiful, breezy and relaxing.

Sarah took turns with the camcorder.

It was in the low 40's, which was very pleasant for hiking. The trees here don't noticeably start leafing out until the end of May. But there are other obvious signs of spring here: MOSQUITOES!!!!

Joshy made it up the rock without even working up a sweat!

We rested up top for quite a while. Then, it was back down the "trail".

Happy birthday Ben! We love you!

Heading downstairs was just as fun.

Looking up at big brother.

What was that thing that goes before a fall....?

Giddy up!